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The Ruff Report: Dogs and Food

Beware of this sickening way to feed your pet

You want to keep your pet fit and healthy, so you feed your dog or cat commercial pet food that promises to be low in calories and you use the feeding amount guidelines on the bag or can, believing you are doing what is best for your pet.

But if you are using the recommendations on pet food labels as a guide for the amount to feed your dog or cat, you actually may be sentencing your animal to obesity and all its associated health problems, a leading veterinary nutritionist warns.

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Most dogs and cats who are being feed so-called dietary pet food would actually gain weight if owners adhered to the feeding amount instructions and failed to adjust the recommendations to their pet's individual calorie requirements, a study by has found.
Dr. Lisa Freeman, co-author of the study and a professor of nutrition at Tufts University's Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine of Massachusetts, says a lot of misinformation exists about pet foods.

"It's understandable that people are confused about what to feed their dogs and cats," Dr. Freeman states in a media release. "To counteract these myths, people are accustomed to turning to the labels on food, but, as this study shows, packaging might not always be a reliable source of information."

Those who feed their dogs and cats weight management food may be compounding their pet's weight problems because the study - which examined 93 of those wet and dry pet foods - found more than half of them actually exceeded the federal government's maximum calorie restrictions for labeling a food as dietary.

Under federal guidelines, pet foods labeled "lite," "light," "low calorie," "less calorie," or "low calorie" must provide the caloric content and also adhere to a maximum kilocalorie per kilogram restriction.

Foods without these designations currently are allowed, but not required, to provide the caloric content on the label. Efforts are under way to make this information required on all pet food labels.

The study also found that these weight management foods varied wildly in price - from 4 cents to more than $1.10 per kilocalorie.

A recent study by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention revealed that nearly half the dogs in the United States have a weight problem. The report found 43 percent of all dogs were classified as overweight or obese by a veterinary health care provider and 10 percent were classified as obese.

Obesity in companion animals is associated with numerous diseases, including pancreatitis, osteoarthritis, dermatological disease, diabetes, and respiratory tract diseases and may contribute to a shorter lifespan, according to many studies.

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